If your world spins with balance issues, know you’re not alone.
A study of Balance Disorder Trends in the US pointed to an increase of reported balance issues in 2008 (24.16 million) ‐ 2016 (36.78 million). In the same study, “adults with balance problems were limited in ability to drive motor vehicles (13.0%), exercise (14.4%), participate in social activities (12.9%), or walk downstairs (12.8%)”. As you age, balance disorder often leads to falls. According to the CDC’s 2020 statistics, over one million older Texans reported falling.
Which brings us to Balance Awareness Week. raises awareness about balance-related disorders like vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and vestibular migraines. The purpose is to make sure that people suffering from these often debilitating conditions get diagnosed quicker and manage their symptoms.
What causes balance issues?
- Inner ear issues play a big role in your balance, and can throw your balance off-kilter. Conditions like Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) are classic culprits.
- Poor vision or eye diseases can compromise your balance because of poor spatial data fed to your brain.
- Your body’s inability to sense itself in space indicates Proprioceptive Dysfunction. Disorders affecting proprioception, like peripheral neuropathy, can impact balance.
- Conditions affecting the brain or spinal cord, such as strokes, multiple sclerosis, or traumatic brain injuries, can also mess with your equilibrium.
- Weak muscles, arthritis, or mechanical issues like sprained ankles can also affect balance.
- Some medications come with the unfortunate side effects of dizziness or imbalance.
- Aging causes a natural decline in vision, proprioception, and vestibular function. In turn, this makes older adults more susceptible to balance issues.
- Alcohol consumption, sedentary behavior, and even dehydration can affect your balance.
- Anxiety and panic disorders can cause symptoms like dizziness and imbalance.
How can physical therapy help you with balance issues?
Using Bowman Physical Therapy for balance issues is like hiring a personal trainer for your vestibular system and musculoskeletal mechanics. Let’s break down how we help:
- Bowman therapists design targeted exercises that challenge your balance in a controlled way. This helps re-train your vestibular system, improves your muscle coordination and makes you less wobbly.
- Weak muscles create fall hazards. Our program helps you strengthen key muscle groups like core and lower extremities. This provides better support and stability.
- How you walk (your gait) can be a tripping accident waiting to happen. We analyze your gait and teach you how to correct abnormalities and reduce your falling risks.
- Bowman Physical Therapists often provide recommendations for making your living environment safer, reducing tripping hazards like loose rugs or poor lighting.
- You’ll get customized proprioception training that improves your body’s spatial awareness, crucial for balance and coordination.
- We educate you on proper posture, foot care, and other small-but-mighty life changes that can make a big difference.
- Sometimes, pain compounds with balance issues. Physical therapy helps manage pain conditions, making it easier for you to move around safely.
- You’ll hear us use the word customization when describing your treatment. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it here. Our therapists tailor interventions based on your individual medical history, medications, and lifestyle.
- Fear of falling can, ironically, increase your risk of doing just that. Gaining skills and strength can boost your confidence and help you feel less tentative in your movements.
Balance Issues and the Importance of a Fall Risk Assessment
Our fall risk assessment hunts for factors that make you more likely to take a spill. The assessment evaluates multiple aspects like your medical history, medication usage, physical capabilities, and environmental factors. Here’s why it’s not to be brushed off:
- The assessment can flag potential risks before they manifest as actual falls. Prevention is always better than a trip to the ER.
- Once risks are identified, targeted measures can be implemented. For example, if muscle weakness is a concern, a physical therapy regimen, specific to your needs, gets developed, implemented, and managed so you succeed.
- Some medications can make you dizzy or disoriented. Your assessment provides us an opportunity to review and make recommendations for your physician to adjust medications that increase your fall risks.
- Simple modifications in your living space, like installing grab bars or better lighting, can be recommended based on the assessment’s findings.
- Resource Allocation: For healthcare systems and caregivers, knowing who is at high risk allows for more efficient allocation of resources like home health aides or monitoring devices.
- Knowing your risks and actively managing them can reduce your fear of falling, which itself can be a fall risk.
In a nutshell, a fall risk assessment can stave off future catastrophe. Falling isn’t just about a bruised ego. Falling can lead to fractures, hospital stays, and a downward health spiral. So, consider a fall risk assessment as you would a fire alarm: it’s a necessity that can save your life.
The upshot? We don’t just put a bandage on your balance problem; we get to the root of it. Whether it’s faulty mechanics, weak muscles, or a compromised vestibular system, we’ll help you tackle balance issues head-on. So, if you feel wobbly on your feet, contact Bowman Physical Therapy and get yourself back in balance.